Lack of QR-coded health pass does not impose isolation in France

READERS’ letters 08 September ‘Isolated on French campsite thanks to QR codes failure’ made me think about Guernsey’s (dis)connections with our southerly neighbour. On the one hand, the letter appears somewhat sensationalist and a misrepresentation of the reality of the situation surrounding the French health pass. Lack of a QR-coded health pass does not impose isolation for Guernsey visitors to France and there is an alternative route for securing a temporary pass by taking a (possibly still free of charge) Covid test at a pharmacy.

What I found more valuable in the letter is evidence of distinctions between people and vaccine certification along national lines. Non-French-vaccinated visitors, such as British citizens from the UK or Guernsey, face difficulties accessing some everyday (but non-essential) services in France because their vaccine certificates do not comply with French regulations. In another example, I (a Channel Islander) recently arrived in Guernsey with my French vaccine certificate (accepted from 16 August), having waited much longer to enter the island than my counterparts with NHS UK vaccine certificates. In England, since mid-August, fully-vaccinated individuals do not have to self-isolate if they are close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Yet the Gov.UK website notes that ‘fully vaccinated’ means having received two doses from the NHS in the UK. In contrast, my double vaccination from France (a vaccine manufactured in the same factory as those approved in the UK) does not grant me this right, which has significant implications in my English workplace which now takes double vaccination and no social distancing as the norm.

These examples demonstrate difficulties and frustrations where one does not have the right type of vaccine certificate; imposing distinctions on a national basis. To some extent this is understandable as we are dealing with different and (mostly) independent jurisdictions. However, distinctions can far too easily become forms of discrimination.

One irony behind this vaccine certification problem is Brexit. Had the UK not left the European Union, it (and Guernsey by association) would very likely have certificates which were part of the EU digital Covid certification scheme (as does France), allowing freer authorised movement between our neighbours.

This leads me to express an aspiration: Guernsey has multiple connections with and a direct link to France. These are sometimes (often) lost sight of, particularly in our relations with the UK. I’d like to see more (formal) recognition of our island’s proximity with France that would include bureaucratic procedures towards making it much easier to move and liaise between the two.

Returning to a key word employed in the aforementioned letter: let’s not be isolated on the edge of the UK, but embrace our southerly connections.

NAME AND ADDRESS WITHHELD

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